I was chewin' gum for something to do
The blinds were being pulled down on the dew
Inside, out of love, what a laugh
I was looking for you

Saxophones started blowing me down
I was buried in sound
Taxicabs were driving me around
To the handshake drugs I bought downtown
To the handshake drugs I bought downtown

They were translated poorly, I felt like a clown
I looked like someone I used to know
I felt alright
And if I ever was myself
I wasn't that night

Oh it's okay for you to say
What you want from me
I believe that's the only
Way for me to be, exactly
What you want me to be

Oh it's okay for you to say
What you want from me
I believe that's the only
Way for me to be
Exactly what you want me to be

Oh I was chewin' gum for something to do
The blinds were being pulled down on the dew
Inside, out of love, what a laugh
I was looking for you

Saxophones started blowin' me down
I was buried in sound
The taxicabs were driving me around
To the handshake drugs I bought downtown
To the handshake drugs I bought downtown

Oh it's okay for you to say
What you want from me
I believe that's the only
Way for me to be
Exactly what do you want me to be?
Exactly what do you want me to be?

Felt like a clown
They were translating poorly
I looked like someone
I used to know
And if I ever was myself
I wasn't that night

Exactly what do you want me to be?
Exactly what do you want me to be?


Lyrics submitted by eastcidskl

Handshake Drugs [Bonus Track] Lyrics as written by Jeff Tweedy

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Handshake Drugs song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentHere's my theory. I believe this song like many of Wilco's songs sticks with the themes of co-dependence in both relationships and addiction. Tweedy, unlike many rock songwriters, comes from a nuclear family and has been able to sustain a nuclear family (married to the same woman, had kids) of his own. He has done this while negotiating the lure of addiction in a variety of forms (cigarettes, booze, drugs, probably art and now apparently he's a workout freak). This song pits his two compulsions, his family and his addictions against each other. That's why he is "inside out of love." He is conscious of the effect that his need to satisfy his physical loves (the addictions and artistic passions) have on the emotional love he has for his wife and family. He is conscious of how, in this case, drugs, make him feel and act like a clown. However, he doesn't know how to harmonize his twin passions and let's face it, they are both necessary to Jeff's ability to create great art. So he asks his wife what she wants from him. He knows she just wants him to stop with his compulsions but those compulsions are him and he won't stop being who he is. I think the feedback that sounds like radio static at the end of the track is the real interesting part of the song. The simple melody (D-G-F) collapses but continues under the feedback and distortion. I think the melody is love, or soul or whatever you want to call it and the noise is the chaos that is created when one tries to be true to oneself while trying to love your wife and family. That's I think what makes Jeff different from a lot of other guys. He's not Lou Reed or Kurt Cobain. He's not battling homosexual urges or reeling from a childhood in a broken home or a total misfit. He's more of a regular joe facing killer addictive urges and it becomes even more difficult and scary when you fight those urges and you can't say "well I was born gay or I come from a broken home." You have to just blame yourself.
    supposablethumbson July 06, 2007   Link

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